Aironi vs Leinster preview

Leinster travel to Italy to face Aironi in the Rabo Direct Pro12 at 6pm on Friday evening.


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The Irish province tops the table, eleven points ahead of Ospreys. Aironi, meanwhile, are last with a mere 15 points.

Leinster are unbeaten in all competitions since September, when Glasgow Warriors beat them 23-19. Josef Schmidt’s team will be looking to bounce back after last week’s 10-10 draw against Glasgow Warriors, however.

Aironi have only won three games matches out of 15, but the Italian side have beaten Treviso and Connaught in the last five matches. Rowland Phillips’ side were also moments away from beating Newport Gwent Dragons last week, which would have made it three home victories in a row. Aironi will be hoping to force an upset, but the Italians are unlikely to threaten Leinster on recent form.

Leinster will be missing several players on international duty, but Luke Fitzgerald returns to the fold. The 24-year-old has not played since Christmas and will replace Isa Nacewa at full back, with Fionn Carr and Andrew Conway on the wing.

Ian Madigan starts at out-half alongside scrum-half Isaac Boss, while Brendan Macken and Eoin Malley are the centres.

Heinke van der Merwe, Richardt Strauss and Nathan make up the front row, with Damian Browne and Devin Toner starting at lock. Shane Jennings is named captain and will line up beside Kevin McLoughlin and Rhys Ruddock on the back row.

Aironi, meanwhile, have made five changes to the side that narrowly lost 10-9 to Newport Gwent Dragons last week.

Giulio Toniolatti replaces Alberto Benettin at full back, while Riccardo Pavan makes his third start of the season on the wing.

Josh Sole and Simone Favaro come into the back row alongside Nicola Cattina. Aironi also make a change at lock, with George Biagi replacing last week’s man-of-the-match Joshua Furno.

Aironi: 15 Giulio Toniolatti; 14 Riccardo Pavan, 13 Roberto Quartaroli, 12 Gabriel Pizarro, 11 Sinoti Sinoti; 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Tito Tebaldi; 8 Josh Sole, 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Nicola Cattina; 5 Carlo Del Fava, 4 George Biagi; 3 Lorenzo Romano, 2 Roberto Santamaria (Captain), 1 Matias Aguero.

Replacements: 16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Salvatore Perugini, 19 Luca Redolfini, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Tyson Keats, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 Gilberto Pavan.

Coach: Rowland Phillips.

Leinster: 15 Luke Fitzgerald, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Eoin O’Malley, 12 Brendan Macken, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss; 1 Heinke van der Merwe, 2 Richardt Strauss, 3 Nathan White, 4 Damian Browne, 5 Devin Toner, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 7 Shane Jennings (Captain), 8 Rhys Ruddock

Replacements: A Dundon, J McGrath, J Hagan, L Auva’a, D Ryan, J Cooney, N Reid, I Nacewa.

Coach: Josef Schmidt


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